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NerdWallet’s Best Chase Credit Cards of 2018

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Chase has consistently high signup bonuses and rewards rates, but which of its cards is the right one for you? Chase has no-annual-fee options, a standout signup bonus for travelers and a great points program in Ultimate Rewards. Here are NerdWallet’s picks among Chase cards for value and usability.

NerdWallet’s best Chase credit cards

Best for … Card
Travel Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Cash back Chase Freedom®
Balance transfers Chase Slate®
Premium travel perks Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Best for travel

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • A large bonus
    • No foreign transaction fee
    • Cool factor - metal card
    • Earn more points on travel and dining at restaurants
    • Premium travel protection benefits

    Cons

    • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, after that $95 per year

    Annual Fees

    $0 for the first year, then $95

    APR

    • APR: 17.24% - 24.24% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.24%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
    • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
    • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
    • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
    • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is among the best travel credit cards available anywhere, boasting a huge Chase Ultimate Rewards signup bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Your points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase’s booking tool. There’s also no foreign transaction fee — always a perk for world travelers.

As far as rewards rates, you’ll get 2 points per dollar on travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Airfare, hotels, cruises, taxis, rental cars and train tickets are all categorized as travel purchases. Consistent with all Chase rewards cards, you can earn unlimited points, and the points don’t expire. The card has an $0 for the first year, then $95. You can transfer points to 11 frequent traveler programs at a 1:1 rate.

Best for cash back

Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom®

Apply Now on Chase's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No annual fee
    • 5% rewards on rotating categories
    • Access to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards site to earn more cash back

    Cons

    • If you value simplicity, a flat rate cash back card may be better
    • A foreign transaction fee

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 16.24% - 24.99% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.24%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months
  • Additional Information
    • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
    • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
    • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
    • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
    • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.24-24.99%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
    • No minimum to redeem for cash back
    • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
    • No annual fee

The Chase Freedom® is an all-around winner with great rewards, a $0 annual fee and a great sign-up offer: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. You’ll get 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories, up to $1,500 spending per quarter, and 1% back on everything else. Here’s the current bonus category list:

Chase Freedom® bonus rewards categories for 2017 and early 2018
Q1 2017 (Jan. 1 - March 31)Gas stations and local commuter transportation (not including parking, tolls or Amtrak)
Q2 2017 (April 1 - June 30)Grocery stores and drugstores
Q3 2017 (July 1 – Sept. 30)Restaurants and movie theaters
Q4 2017 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)Walmart and department stores
Q1 2018 (Jan. 1 - March 31)• Gas stations
• Internet, cable and phone service
• Purchases via Chase Pay, Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay

The Chase Freedom® is the ideal go-to card, versatile and widely accepted. It’s a solid first card, next card, backup card — anytime card.

Best for balance transfers
Chase Slate®

The Chase Slate® has a rare combination of a healthy introductory 0% APR period, a $0 annual fee and no balance transfer fee for the first 60 days. The introductory APR period — 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.24% - 24.99% Variable APR — is good in itself, but it’s even better when you don’t have to pay the upfront fee that most balance transfer cards charge, usually in the range of 3-5% of the transferred amount.

Nerd note: You cannot take advantage of the balance transfer feature if you’re trying to transfer from another Chase card.

Best for premium travel perks:
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is designed for people who spend enough on travel to make the hefty annual fee worthwhile. If you travel a lot, take a look at this card’s sign-up bonus. Chase explains it best: Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® .

The card offers 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on dining and travel purchases, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. But it’s the redemption value of the points that makes this card so special. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, you’ll be able to redeem points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal at a value of 1.5 cents per point. That means your 3-point rewards rate on travel and dining is worth 4.5 cents per dollar spent.

The card also offers a $300 reimbursement each year for travel purchases, which eliminates two-thirds of the $450 annual fee. There are other perks for frequent travelers as well. You’ll be reimbursed for your application fee for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck programs, and there are no foreign transaction fees. The card also offers access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide by giving cardholders a complimentary membership to Priority Pass Select.